CLEVELAND -- The Cleveland Indians went into the All-Star break with a record of 47-47. It's the 13th time this season they have been exactly at the .500 mark, and for most of the first half they haven't wavered more than three games above or below .500.
It will likely be a challenge for the Indians to mount a serious push for the postseason in the second half unless they start to get some consistent production from their injured and under-performing players. Two key players are currently on the disabled list: right-hander Justin Masterson and center fielder and leadoff hitter Michael Bourn.
Masterson is out with an inflamed right knee, but General Manager Chris Antonetti said the Indians expect him to be activated within a week following the resumption of play after the All-Star break. Bourn is behind Masterson in his rehab, and could still be sidelined for another couple of weeks.
Masterson has been one of the biggest disappointments on the team this year. A 14-game winner and All-Star selection last year, Masterson this year is 4-6 with a 5.51 ERA. It's hard to see the Indians climbing back into contention without a big second half from Masterson.
Antonetti said he is "exploring a lot of different things" in trade talks with other teams, but he is quick to add that the biggest need for the Indians in the second half is for the players being counting on to produce to start producing. In addition to Masterson, that list would also include designated hitter Nick Swisher, first baseman Carlos Santana, second baseman Jason Kipnis and utilityman Ryan Raburn, all of whom were important contributors last season.
Swisher has more errors than home runs, which is one reason he is being used more as a designated hitter than first baseman. The switch hitting Santana has shown some life lately, but he is still hitting just .189 against right-handed pitchers. Kipnis, like Masterson an all-star last year, is hitting just .255 with three home runs and 24 RBIs after hitting .284 with 17 home runs and 84 RBIs last year.
Raburn hit 16 home runs in 243 at-bats as a super sub last year, but this year he has hit just two home runs in 151 at-bats. With the exception of right-hander Corey Kluber, who had an all-star-caliber first half, the starting rotation has been in a constant state of flux.
So for the Indians to become a factor in the race in the second half, what they need most is simply better production from the players already on the roster. "I wish our record was better," said manager Terry Francona. "But I think the way we played (to get back to .500), the next two months, if we play good baseball, it's going to be very exciting."